An efficiently run and well-equipped airport can make or break the travel experience. Plus, they’re a boon for global mobility. Here are five of the world’s best, according to the World Airport Awards 2023.
Friendly airport staff. Short lines. Fast, respectful immigration. Punctual departures, reliable luggage handling and a range of high-quality restaurants, shops, lounges… These are just a few elements that set the world’s top airports apart.
To recognize the best of the best, the World Airport Awards invites millions of travelers from over 100 countries to vote for their favorite airports each year.
“Airports are a gateway to new experiences, adventures, and opportunities – they’ve enabled us to enter a golden era of global mobility,” says Armand Arton. “All too often, we forget just how essential airports have become in modern society. Awards like these serve as a reminder and a benchmark of excellence in the travel industry.”
The 2023 results were announced last month, with Singapore Changi Airport snagging first place – marking its 12th time at the top. Here’s a list of the five best airports in the world this year, and what each one is doing to make travelers’ journeys more seamless, sustainable and secure.
1. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
Singapore’s airport is consistently recognized as one of the world’s best airports, and it’s easy to see why. With a wide range of dining and shopping outlets, including a 10-story retail complex, gym and shower facilities, a butterfly garden, a rooftop pool with runway views, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, Changi Airport has become a travel destination in itself.
Beyond its luxurious amenities, Changi is also one of the most technologically advanced airports in the world. From biometric systems that reduce waiting times at immigration and boarding, to robotic cleaners and smart toilets that allow passengers to check the availability of stalls and wash basins, this state-of-the-art facility offers countless cutting-edge features to improve the passenger experience.
2. Hamad International Airport (HIA)
Only the most innovative airport design would do for an ultramodern capital like Doha in Qatar. Hamad International Airport certainly fits the bill, boasting unique architecture that blends traditional Islamic architecture with modern style. Travelers can also look forward to contemporary artwork, like the famous $6.8 million Lamp Bear installation and a state-of-the-art water conservation program, including a greywater system that recycles water for non-potable uses.
Elite travelers at HIA – particularly those flying with the country’s flag carrier airline, Qatar Airways – enjoy a raft of luxurious amenities, too. They’re spoiled with private check-in booths, dedicated passport control counters, e-gates and security check lanes, and a first-class lounge with duty-free shops and showers.
3. Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo, Haneda International Airport is a favorite among business and leisure travelers who prize convenience, comfort, cleanliness and tech-savvy touches. Beyond its well-connected location, HND has also been praised for its accessibility, offering autonomous wheelchairs that guide reduced mobility passengers to their gates with the push of a button. There’s also a luxury hotel with a hot spring, and Haneda’s high-tech cleaning equipment, such as UV disinfection robots and air purification systems, has earned the airport recognition as the “World’s Cleanest Airport” for eight consecutive years.
4. Incheon International Airport (ICN)
South Korea’s largest airport is also one of the world’s busiest, welcoming over 70 million visitors annually. With so many travelers moving through its gates and terminals, this seamless transport hub excels at processing passengers. It’s one of the quickest in the world: On average, it takes guests only 16 minutes to clear departure processes and 12 minutes upon arrival, compared to 60 and 45 minutes, respectively, at other international airports.
Incheon also has plenty of facilities and amenities for guests, including spas, napping zones with comfortable lounge chairs, shower rooms, digital gyms to work out with mobile devices, and a program of various traditional Korean cultural activities, performances and exhibitions.
5. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
France’s main international airport – and Europe’s busiest – serves a staggering 105 different airlines flying from all corners of the globe. This airport has long been ahead of the curve, long harnessing cutting-edge solutions to handle the tremendous volume.
For starters, CDG was one of the first airports to replace fingerprint verification systems with facial recognition. It also uses big data and artificial intelligence to forecast passenger flow at security lines and traffic caused by passenger cars, diffuse bottlenecks, and better allocate staff. Moreover, the airport has many boutiques selling worthy souvenirs, from artisanal chocolate to designer bags, French wines and colognes.
With global mobility poised to soar in years to come, airports will continue to play a critical role in connecting people from all walks of life. Indeed, the best airports can also reduce travel time, act as innovators in transport technology, and drive economic growth for a city or nation.
“The globe is significantly more open than it was five years ago, as evidenced by our World Openness Score,” says Arton, referring to a measure that tracks the rate of visa-free travel worldwide. “A world-class airport can unlock new opportunities for a destination, its communities and the people who pass through it. As airports raise the bar higher and higher, we will all benefit from the progress and growth spurred by increased global connectivity.”
These countries may have the best airports in the world, but want to find out how their passports compare? Click here.